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Does Marxism reflect uncritically the conceptual system it fights against, rather than a truly comprehensive approach to human history? Drawing on innovative work in anthropology, history and philosophy, Professor Donham confronts this problem in analyzing a radically different social order: the former Maale kingdom of southern Ethiopia. Unlike capitalism, where inequality is organized by contracts between 'free' individuals, powerful men in Maale were conceived as 'begetting' others through control of biological fertility and material fortune. The author scrutinizes this unusual system of domination in order to sharpen issues in social and cultural theory. He concludes that the interpretation of symbols and analysis of historical contingency should be crucial steps in any Marxist investigation. This unusual combination of social theory and ethnography will appeal to anthropologists, sociologists and political scientists.
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- Date Published: November 1990
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521346634
- length: 254 pages
- dimensions: 228 x 152 x 22 mm
- weight: 0.525kg
- contains: 34 b/w illus.
- availability: Unavailable - out of print October 1999
Table of Contents
1. Homo economicus: a Maale mystery
2. Epochal structures I: reconstructing historical materialism
3. Epochal structures II: an anatomy of Maale production
4. History at one point in time: 'Working together' in Bola, 1975
Appendix: predicting the past from the future
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